A sense of community after flooding chaos

Nicola Sturgeon chats to flood victims.
Nicola Sturgeon chats to flood victims.

The communities of Inverurie and Kintore have been rallying this week after the worst flooding to hit the area in living memory.

Residents have united as they attempt to rebuild their lives following the devastation of a week ago.

Still smiling -  Margaret Milne, back right, of Canal Crescent with some of the Asda helpers as they prepare to lift carpets and furnishings.

Still smiling - Margaret Milne, back right, of Canal Crescent with some of the Asda helpers as they prepare to lift carpets and furnishings.

And moves are under way to organise a fund-raising event in Inverurie Town Hall next month in support of of flood victims.

Port Elphinstone suffered the brunt of the deluge from the River Don last Thursday night which forced the evacuation of more than 100 people from their homes.

The clear-up has been under way in earnest over the last few days with streets in the community littered with damaged household goods.

Efforts are under way to organise a fund-raising event in Inverurie Town Hall next month in support of local flood victims.

Everything is gutted and destroyed and generally in just a poor shape

Stuart Moffat Inverurie Resident

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited Inverurie on Saturday as the Scottish Government announced £12 million of funding would be made available to areas swamped by the recent flooding.

Every household, business or charity will receive a grant of £1500 with £3000 available for businesses whose trade has been affected.

And this week environment minister Dr Aileen McLeod unveiled a £235 million flood management plan that could help protect thousands of properties in Scotland, including 42 new flood protection schemes.

It can’t come too soon for beleaguered flood victims in Garioch communities.

The Don was swollen to its highest level in nearly half a century last Thursday as days of persistent rain were followed by a continuous downpour throughout the day leading to the Don inevitably bursting its banks later in the evening.

Canal Road and Canal Crescent in Port Elphinstone were particularly badly affected and a major evacuation operation was put in place by the emergency services to move residents whose homes had been inundated with flood water.

It was a double blow for Stuart Moffat and his family of Canal Crescent.

His parents’ home in Ballater was engulfed when the Dee burst its banks the previous week.

Stuart said it was the second time in a week that he and his family had to leave their home and stay with friends.

He added: “What happened on Thursday night was a different kettle of fish. Our neighbours evacuated their property first and we packed what we could.

“We found out at midnight that the Don had burst its banks and a torrent of water was flooding through and we knew this time that there were no winners and it was just a question of how badly we had lost.

“Everything is gutted and destroyed and generally in just a poor shape.”

Stuart praised the response from the community as residents began to come to terms with the destruction caused by the floods.

More than 40 volunteers answered a call from Garioch Rugby Club to assist the clear-up in Port Elphinstone, Kintore and Kemnay.

They were joined by rugby players from Moray, Dyce and Ellon and volunteers from Colony Park.

A club spokesman said: “The support was fantastic and a massive thank-you to everyone.”

Around 25 Asda workers also turned up to provide help to residents in one of many spontaneous gestures of help by local groups, organisations, businesses and individuals which was praised by the First Minister on her visit.

Many returned on Sunday to assist as the long process of clearing up gathered pace and Inverurie and District Round Table have pledged £3000 of their funds immediately to assist flood victims, and are seeking more support.

Strathburn Hotel owner David Barrack was also hailed a hero for opening his doors to flood victims and stranded travellers.

Around 40 people were given a free bed for the night on Thursday after learning of his charitable offer through social media.

Mr Barrack said: “It was the least we could do given the situation. We had a mixture of folk who’d been evacuated and people who couldn’t travel.”

A rest centre was also set up at Inverurie Academy.

The heartbreaking scenes were visited on Friday by Aberdeenshire Council co-leaders Richard Thomson and Martin Kitts-Hayes.

Meanwhile, Inverurie and District Councillor Richard Cowling thanked the emergency services for their response.

He said: “Nothing would have prepared me for the fury the occurred around 11pm Thursday evening when the Don finally burst its banks and sent that horrendous rush of water towards Canal Road.

“It it must have tested the courage of our volunteers to the limit not knowing when or how it would peak and what would survive.

“My thoughts and best wishes go to all who have lost their homes and possessions and hopefully in the future we can make some defences that will deal with most levels of floods, but we may not be able to deal with events of Thursday night’s ferocity.”

As communities started the massive clear-up operation, flood warnings remained in place for Inverurie, Kintore and the wider River Don area for several days as rain continued to pose a threat.

Meanwhile, many homeowners who have been the victim of recent floods may not know where to turn for support in dealing with related issues.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards team, in partnership with Citizens Advice, can provide help and advice on a range of issues following flood damage.

If your property or possessions are damaged as a result of flooding, or you incur extra expenses, you should make a claim on your insurance.

If this does not resolve matters or you end up in dispute with your insurance company, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 in the first instance.

They provide free, impartial advice on your legal rights in the event of a dispute and will refer complaints to trading standards for further help if required.

There is further useful advice about insurance problems on the Citizens Advice website at: http://bit.ly/1PNsKag